Swindon residents can pool together to cut energy bills in council pilot scheme

Councillor Dale Heenan is spearheading the new scheme

Councillor Dale Heenan is spearheading the new scheme

First published in News by

CASH-STRAPPED householders in Swindon will have a chance to cut their rising energy bills – by pooling their buying power against energy providers in a pioneering one-year pilot scheme.

Swindon Council is seeking 5,000 residents to register for a ‘collective switching’ project, where residents can save an average of £150 per year by negotiating a better tariff with gas and energy suppliers.

The council will sign up free-of-charge to a scheme run by the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities. Belgian firm, iChoosr, will carry out the negotiations a relay the results to the consumer who then makes a decision whether to switch or not.

Coun Dale Heenan, cabinet member for strategic planning and sustainability, said: “The cost of living is one of the most important issues facing local residents, and Swindon Council has now frozen council tax for the third year in a row, and banished the 42 per cent increase in three years of 10 years ago firmly to the past.

“Unfortunately gas and electricity bills always seem to increase with every bill that lands on the doorstep.

“Peterborough, Manchester and other local authorities have all saved their local residents between £60 and £300 off their annual utility bills by using a bulk community switch approach. The idea is simple, any resident can go on to a comparison website like uswitch and search to find a deal from all of the energy suppliers – but if 1,000 households worked together then they have more bargaining power and can get an even better deal.

“Swindon Council is teaming up with Manchester Council to hold a reverse auction in June. Energy suppliers will bid to provide gas and electricity to every interested resident, with the lowest price winning.

“Residents will then be sent the details and they can decide whether to accept the offer or decline and stay with their existing provider. There is no commitment to switch.

“I have set Swindon an ambitious target of saving an average of £150 off the gas and electricity bills of 5,000 households, and I hope residents, community groups and parish councils can get behind and support this campaign so the town can make it a success over the next six months.”

Residents must pay a switching fee, equating to approximately £10 per instance to the council and £30 to the switching company.

Swindon Council has set a budget of £3,000 to cover communications and any setup costs, to be funded from income generated from the switching fee. Any income to the council in excess of £3,000 will be used to combat local fuel poverty.

Coun Mark Dempsey, Labour group deputy leader, said: “It’s a very good idea. It helps families with rising energy prices on the bills they’re paying on a monthly basis and it helps families get the best deal that they can.

“It will be interesting to see the level of support.”

Information on how to sign up will be sent out with council tax bills later this month.

Comments (9)

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11:26am Thu 28 Feb 13

AGINGER says...

Count me in Dale,it is 50thousand households we need to get back at British Gas etc with their advertising campaign going full blast and higher profits again, after all they are only an accounting company with add ons ,ripping our families off every year without fail.
Count me in Dale,it is 50thousand households we need to get back at British Gas etc with their advertising campaign going full blast and higher profits again, after all they are only an accounting company with add ons ,ripping our families off every year without fail. AGINGER
  • Score: 0

11:53am Thu 28 Feb 13

RichardR1 says...

This is similar to a scheme set up by Which I think. We signed up to it, but I don't believe it ever materialised or delivered the savings promised.
This is similar to a scheme set up by Which I think. We signed up to it, but I don't believe it ever materialised or delivered the savings promised. RichardR1
  • Score: 0

1:03pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Peter Mallinson says...

Is the £10 +£30 taken out of the savings made by the residents, if so then £150 savings will be used up after 3 switches.

Have I mis-read it.
Is the £10 +£30 taken out of the savings made by the residents, if so then £150 savings will be used up after 3 switches. Have I mis-read it. Peter Mallinson
  • Score: 0

1:55pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Hmmmf says...

"Residents must pay a switching fee, equating to approximately £10 per instance to the council and £30 to the switching company."

Looks like £40 per switch to me. With 5000 punters that makes £200k per switch. Nice little earner for the council, nice little earner for the Belgians.
"Residents must pay a switching fee, equating to approximately £10 per instance to the council and £30 to the switching company." Looks like £40 per switch to me. With 5000 punters that makes £200k per switch. Nice little earner for the council, nice little earner for the Belgians. Hmmmf
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Dale Heenan says...

Residents will not pay anything to switch, it is a free scheme to take part in.

The supplier who "wins" the reverse auction and offers the lowest price to residents will cover the costs. It is the normal referral fee which goes to which, uswitch, moneysupermarket etc, only instead of the deal being for 1 household it is based on 1000+ households.

We looked at all the alternative schemes and this was the best one all round. I think its a great idea to try and hope it is a success in June.

More information out in a couple of weeks
Residents will not pay anything to switch, it is a free scheme to take part in. The supplier who "wins" the reverse auction and offers the lowest price to residents will cover the costs. It is the normal referral fee which goes to which, uswitch, moneysupermarket etc, only instead of the deal being for 1 household it is based on 1000+ households. We looked at all the alternative schemes and this was the best one all round. I think its a great idea to try and hope it is a success in June. More information out in a couple of weeks Dale Heenan
  • Score: 0

6:14pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Hmmmf says...

The Adver wrote:
Residents must pay a switching fee, equating to approximately £10 per instance to the council and £30 to the switching company.

Dale Heenan wrote:
Residents will not pay anything to switch, it is a free scheme to take part in.

Well that clears that up then.
The Adver wrote:
Swindon Council has set a budget of £3,000 to cover communications and any setup costs, to be funded from income generated from the switching fee.

Looks like residents of Swindon have already shelled out 3k on the scheme whether they sign up or not. Why is the 'switching fee' mentioned so often if it doesn't exist? Who gave the Adver such detailed figures?
[quote][p][bold]The Adver[/bold] wrote: Residents must pay a switching fee, equating to approximately £10 per instance to the council and £30 to the switching company.[/quote] [quote][p][bold]Dale Heenan[/bold] wrote: Residents will not pay anything to switch, it is a free scheme to take part in.[/quote] Well that clears that up then. [quote][p][bold]The Adver[/bold] wrote: Swindon Council has set a budget of £3,000 to cover communications and any setup costs, to be funded from income generated from the switching fee.[/quote] Looks like residents of Swindon have already shelled out 3k on the scheme whether they sign up or not. Why is the 'switching fee' mentioned so often if it doesn't exist? Who gave the Adver such detailed figures? Hmmmf
  • Score: 0

6:49pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Empty Car Park says...

RichardR1 wrote:
This is similar to a scheme set up by Which I think. We signed up to it, but I don't believe it ever materialised or delivered the savings promised.
With SBC involved, I expect a similar outcome.

I wonder if this is connected to Rod Bluh's latest business venture that deems his retiring as council leader
[quote][p][bold]RichardR1[/bold] wrote: This is similar to a scheme set up by Which I think. We signed up to it, but I don't believe it ever materialised or delivered the savings promised.[/p][/quote]With SBC involved, I expect a similar outcome. I wonder if this is connected to Rod Bluh's latest business venture that deems his retiring as council leader Empty Car Park
  • Score: 0

9:39pm Thu 28 Feb 13

Phantom Poster says...

I guess this is why a Belgian company is involved:

http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/world-europe-2
0067556
I guess this is why a Belgian company is involved: http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/world-europe-2 0067556 Phantom Poster
  • Score: 0

8:30am Fri 1 Mar 13

house on the hill says...

Most of our utilities are foreign owned, that is the real scandal. They should be state owned and controlled as all essential services should be.
Most of our utilities are foreign owned, that is the real scandal. They should be state owned and controlled as all essential services should be. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

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